Norland; another great offering you have brought and indeed one of Stephen’s insights for me suggests the: “Archetype of the Hero”.
It’s interesting this topic makes it’s appearance today since the US is in mourning recognizing one of the icons of the Civil Rights movement; “John Lewis”; who like Dr. Martin Luther King has come to symbolize not only the role the hero plays within a particular society; but also the character behind the figure. One might ask: “What is identifiable that evokes the best in human nature whether it be a god or a human being? What is this quality in the Hero; whether mortal or god that makes this timeless symbol so important? And why is this quality also universal? What does it mean to be heroic?”
In in the opening lines of Phil Cousineau’s introduction of the: The Hero’s Journey, (on page, XI); he wrote:
Joseph Campbell’s long odyssey through the seas of ancient mythology was as much a spiritual quest as it was a scholarly one. Through his prodigious readings, writings, and travels, as well as his crossroads meetings with many of the country’s most influential men and women. he discovered remarkable parallels in our world’s mythological heritage and reinforcement for the deep conviction he had held since he was a young student that there is a fundamental unity at the heart of nature.
‘Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names.’ he often quoted the Vedas. To synthesize the constant truths of history became the burning point of his life; to bridge the abyss between science and religion, mind and body, East and West, with the timeless linkage of myths became his tasks of tasks.
‘My hope’, he wrote in his preface to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, ‘is that a comparative elucidation may contribute to the perhaps not-quite-desperate cause of those forces that are working in the present world for unification, not in the name of some ecclesiastical or political empire, but in the name of human mutual understanding.’ ”
So what would the main feature be of the world’s great myths and heros that would clarify their distinction throughout history; and my answer would be: “Transcendent”. “Transparent to transcendence” is a phrase Joseph would often use to describe a message of metaphysical or spiritual quality that could penetrate through the material manifestations that often blocked a deeper interconnecting understanding between different realms of human experience. And these barriers most often were the major difficulties that stood in the way of human understanding. To be clearer my approach has to do with different: (east vs west) outlooks as well as historical barriers of: race, class, prestige, monetary advantage, spiritual disagreement, emotional dislike, or just harmony in general if you will; and these are the kinds of problems the hero most generally faces. There are other hero distinctions of course such as: sacrifice, selflessness, courage, determination; to name but a few; but this one feature I think most properly addresses some of the cross-cultural and historical concerns Norland’s piece and Stephen’s multi-dimensional bridge opens up.